There are four members in the economics faculty of Khaira College near Balasore in Odisha. Two of them get salaries of over Rs 1 lakh, one gets around Rs 45,000 and the fourth just Rs 11,139. All of them take 30 to 33 lectures a month.
Although a UGC-recognized college, only the two top-earners get UGC prescribed pay scales. One is getting the state scale, and the lowest earning lecturer is under a contract covered by a ‘block grant’. In many other Odisha colleges, there are lecturers working for as little as Rs 5,000 per month, says Pravas Chandra Mohapatra, a professor at Khaira.
Neither the department of higher education nor the University Grants Commission (UGC) has a complete picture about vacancies in universities and colleges, and the contractual non-regular teachers appointed to tide over these vacancies. A parliamentary standing committee in its report in May this year recorded only partial figures. Against 16,324 sanctioned teaching posts in central universities, 6,254 posts — 38% — were vacant. Information for only 47 state universities (out of a total of 297) was available showing that out of 11,645 sanctioned posts, 4,710 or 40% posts were lying vacant.
“A critical patient has to be given emergency treatment under close monitoring,” the standing committee wrote in anguish.
TOI collected information on pay scales of contractual teachers and their numbers from regional teachers’ associations and federations across the country. The findings are shocking, and indicate a crumbling higher education setup in the country. An estimated 40% of college teachers are non-regular, designated variously as temporary, contractual, ad hoc, guest or self-financing. They usually get anything between Rs 4,000 and Rs 20,000 per month, and work for about six months in a year on contractual basis. They get no other benefits.